Tweetable Takeaway: Although unnecessary, Horrible Bosses 2 still has its funny moments.
By: Wil Loper, Contributor
Nick, Kurt, and Dale (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day, respectively) are back and pimping out a new product, the Shower Buddy. They put all their money into manufacturing a huge amount of Shower Buddies on the expectation that they will all be bought by billionaire Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz in the usual slickly evil mode). When Bert goes back on his order so that he can buy the product at auction at a fraction of the price and rename it the Shower Pal, the trio is left high and dry. It seems the only thing left for them to do is to hatch an elaborate kidnapping scheme to ransom Bert’s son, Rex (Chris Pine).
The characters have become all-out parodies of their first movie selves, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s incongruous, and feels as if the moviemakers would be better off making a completely unrelated movie with the same three actors. The interplay between the three actors is the highlight of the film. Charlie Day is in full It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia mode, proposing preposterous plans and screaming at least six times as much as the first. At one point, he asks for the codename “Majestic Lion” as they talk over walkie-talkies. Classic Charlie Day antics. To compensate, Jason Bateman plays up his straight man shtick from Arrested Development even more. Jason Sudeikis is somewhere in the middle, usually siding on the inept side of the spectrum.
Make no mistake, the chemistry between the three when they start to think up a plan or carry one out is hilarious. It’s the plot that suffers, existing only to serve the characters instead of standing on its own. Throw in a lesser group of actors, a lesser rapport, and the movie would easily become a slog. There’s an effort to bring back Kevin Spacey’s dick boss (now in prison) as well as Jennifer Aniston’s sex addicted character, but the pair feel tacked on to remind viewers this is the sequel to Horrible Bosses. They fit into the movie like a jigsaw piece that looks like it fits in a puzzle, but doesn’t quite. You can force it into place, but a nice looking picture it will not make.
The entire roster of characters are more caricatures rather than real people. Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz’s characters are both straight-up bad, no shades of gray to be found. Jonathan Banks (of Breaking Bad) plays a cop in charge of retrieving the kidnapped son, and although Banks lends some gravitas to the role, the script still reduces him to a role where he basically says throughout, “Darn it, I’ve been foiled by these guys again!” Jamie Foxx is back as crime consultant M.F. Jones, and is mostly played for the joke of driving around with a cat tower in his trunk. Even the trio themselves are cartoonish in their buffoonery. Sudeikis and Day in particular seem to have had half their brains lobotomized sometime between the first movie and the sequel. Charlie’s character struggles to buy a pair of gloves from a convenience store in one scene, Sudeikis’ strolls through a broken-in house like he owns the place. Funny moments abound, but it further illustrates how different the sequel has strayed.
Also gone are the subtle social comments found in the first. Gone are any actual bosses, making the title of this film moot, and the frustration found in many during the recession. Those lucky enough to have jobs to begin with did feel trapped, many could not afford to quit and shop around for a better job because another job might not be found. This helped raise the stakes when the jobs the three were stuck in also happened to have horrible bosses. In this movie, the three pull a bold but stupid movie by putting all their eggs in one basket, and then deciding to engage in criminal activity again once they were covered in yolk. It’s tough to generate much sympathy, and we’re pretty much on Kevin Spacey’s side when he hollers at them, “You’re all morons!”
The chemistry between the Jasons and Charlie Day are undeniable, but the rest of the movie is an exercise in unnecessary sequel-itis. There are laughs to be had, but this is a movie you’d rather stumble on while playing on cable than proudly display on your shelf of Blu-Rays. I give Horrible Bosses 2 3 cat towers out of 5
Score: 3 out of 5